Creating 21st Century Community College Courses

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Full title

Creating 21st Century Community College Courses: Building Free, Public Domain Textbooks for Students

Page length: 21 pages.

Date: 2006.


Hal Plotkin and Martha Kanter


In December, 2004, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District (CCD) Governing Board of Trustees became the first CCD in the nation to enact a formal policy supporting the use of free public domain learning materials as substitutes for commercial textbooks. This paper places the Foothill-De Anza CCD’s new policy in context by reviewing the ongoing growth, development and availability of college-level public domain learning materials suitable for use by community college instructors and students. This paper also reviews some of the challenges that must be overcome to enable community college instructors and learners to take full advantage of these materials. Public domain learning materials are also known as Open Educational Resources (OER). OER are learning materials or resources whose copyrights have expired, or which have been released with an intellectual property license that permits their free use and/or re-purposing by others without the permission of the original authors or creators. OER include items such as courses, course materials, textbooks, streaming video of classroom lectures, tests, software and any other tools, materials or techniques used to transmit knowledge that have an impact on teaching and learning. Once appropriate supporting policies are in place, OER promise, among other benefits, to substantially increase the quality of teaching and learning, reduce a growing financial barrier to higher education, and enable more rapid transfer of best practices in pedagogy.


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